Anyone else tend to forget about their slow cooker?
There’s always a point in winter when I remember that I have one and get all into making chili, chicken wings, and pulled pork. But then it goes back into its cabinet, and I quickly get swept up with my other kitchen appliances.
Sorry, slow cooker.
While some may argue that you can make a perfectly good soup on the stove in much less time, there are a few key counterarguments worth considering:
First of all, if you wait to make your soup until you get home, you won’t get to enjoy the experience of being greeted by the nutty smell of butternut squash soup bubbling away in your slow cooker as soon as you walk through the door.
Secondly, the flavors of your soup or stew have more time to meld together, creating a richer, deeper taste.
And finally, the obvious advantage is that with a slow cooker you can put your ingredients in and just walk away, letting it cook your food for you.
I think the best kind of meal is one that cooks itself. But I’ll let you choose which cooking method wins.
This creamy butternut squash soup is the ideal slow cooker meal. You really can just throw all the ingredients in, set the timer, then forget about it until dinnertime, without any extra browning, roasting, shredding, or other steps.
For the butternut squash, I’m all about saving money, so I bought a whole squash.
Yes, that meant having to peel and cube it, but the extra steps were well worth saving a few bucks – plus, I nerdily enjoy cutting vegetables. However, time is money, so there’s no shame in buying pre-peeled and cubed squash if you’re looking for a more convenient option.
Let’s stop and talk about what a nutritional powerhouse butternut squash is for a moment. With every major nutrient category represented, it’s high up on a dietitian’s favorite starchy vegetable list.
One cup of cooked butternut squash contains:
- 25% of the recommended daily fiber intake
- 60% DV of vitamin A
- 25% DV of vitamin C (especially important in the winter!)
- 10% DV of many other essential nutrients, including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Plus, 2 grams of protein per cup!
But what really sets butternut squash apart nutritionally is that it contains a uniquely high amount of pectin for a starchy vegetable (yes, the ingredient used to make jams and jellies). The reason this is so special is that the pectin helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Why is this important? Over time, frequent spikes in blood sugar can increase our risk for many chronic diseases.
Eating foods like butternut squash that help to prevent these spikes can have long-term health benefits. And that’s pretty exciting, especially to a dietitian.
Okay, enough nutrition, back to the soup!
To make every bowlful nice and creamy, I used canned, full-fat coconut milk. But, if you want to lighten things up, you can use light coconut milk instead. Just be aware that the flavor won’t be as rich.
You can also use cashew cream for an equally creamy vegan option. If you aren’t dairy free, try subbing in regular cream for something a little different!
Regardless of how you get that creamy texture, it’s time to show your slow cooker some love and try out the recipe below.Print
Show your slow cooker some love with this nutritious, creamy butternut squash soup made with just a few simple ingredients.
- 2 pounds peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Place squash, onion, carrots, vegetable broth, coconut milk, sage, salt, and pepper in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until butternut squash is soft.
- Carefully transfer to a blender and blend on high until smooth.
- Return to slow cooker, taste, and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately, or keep on warm until you are ready to serve. Soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months.
Nutritional info below does not include optional garnishes.
- Category: Soup
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Comfort Food
Keywords: butternut squash, winter squash, soup, butternut squash soup
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Vegetables and Measure Ingredients
If you’re using a whole squash, you’ll also need to peel and cube it.
To do so, first slice off both ends and then use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard them.
Place the squash cut-side down on a cutting board. Cut both halves in half horizontally.
Next, cut 1 ½-inch-thick vertical slices down each half.
Stack the vertical slices and cut another set of lengthwise cuts, followed by horizontal cuts, to make the cubes. Set aside.
Peel the carrots. Chop the carrots, onion, and sage.
Measure the rest of your ingredients.
Step 2 – Combine Ingredients
Place the cubed squash, diced onion, chopped carrots, vegetable broth, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and chopped sage in your slow cooker.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until the squash is soft.
Step 3 – Blend
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and blend it on high until smooth.
Depending on the size of your blender, you’ll likely need to do this in batches. Be careful to avoid splattering and steam burns!
An immersion blender is another nice option, since you can blend right in the slow cooker insert.
Return the blended soup to your slow cooker.
Step 4 – Taste and Serve
Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Freshly ground black pepper is my favorite option for cooking, and you can find our selection of top pepper mills and salt grinders here if you’re looking for one to add to your household.
Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with pumpkin seeds and additional fresh sage if you like. Enjoy immediately.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you choose to freeze it, I recommend pouring individual portions into smaller containers to make thawing easier.
Use Your Slow Cooker All Year
While cold-weather meals like soup and chili usually come to mind first when the urge to pull your Crock-Pot out of storage strikes, there are plenty of recipes to keep this appliance up and running year round.
Here are some of our favorite slow cooker recipes that go beyond soups and stews:
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Philly Cheesesteaks
- Vegetarian Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
- 4-Ingredient Barbecue Cola Chicken
We’d love to hear all about your go-to slow cooker meals in the comments below. Love the recipe? Show us by leaving a rating!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Jennifer Swartvagher on October 6, 2015. Last updated: February 19, 2019 at 18:49 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kelli McGrane
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.